Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who can love a nerd?

I’ve just finished plotting and started writing a new book.
The hero is an ex-nerd and I’m loving him. He’s not a nerd now, but at the start of the book he’s back home where that’s how he was known.

Then today Finicky (my daughter) and I ended up watching Can’t Buy Me Love, one of the best nerd stories out there (remember the sweet hearted young Patrick Dempsey trying to win over the popular girl next door?). One of my other favorite movies is Never Been Kissed with the perpetually nerdy Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore)… who gets the guy (yummy Michael Vartan) in the end. Ooh, and how about Sandra Bullock’s character in Miss Congeniality? Love her.

Anyway, I was thinking a lot about nerds.

What do you think of nerds turned hero?
I think it works for a number of reasons.
One, the nerds have this inherent sweetness about them. They’ve been kicked around so they’re much less likely to do any kicking unless they really need to. In fact, I love it even more when they do stand up (especially for the women they love) because it’s that much more of reaction for them. It’s taking them out of their comfort zone (well, Miss Congeniality would be the exception there!) but they’re willing because the person or situation really matters to them.
Two, they use their brains to get what they want. Outsmarting bad guys, figuring out the mystery, seducing the girl… nothing sexier than a high IQ. Especially when he’s protecting you—or kissing you! I’d think it’d be pretty hard to argue with a genius who can give you fifty good, logical reasons why you should go to bed with him. Heck, he’d probably be able to make it sound like it was your idea all along!
Three, they’re generally depicted as a good guy, using their incredible intelligence to research things or build things or invent things. They’re making the world a better place—nothing more heroic than that.

But because my favorite stories--nerd or otherwise-- are romances, I also thought about the love interest. One of the problems with Miss Congeniality’s love story for me was that he’d known her all this time—seen her smarts, her abilities, her wit—yet he isn’t interested until she’s gorgeous. They never did really solve that for me in the movie. (But I’ll watch and likely love anything Sandra Bullock does, so it’s okay). Never Been Kissed is better, as is Can’t Buy Me Love, because they never completely shed the nerdiness and the guy/girl fall for them anyway—in fact, because of who they really are. That’s the best.

In romance novels, Vicki Lewis Thompson has a whole series of nerd books. Which I enjoyed. Lucy Monroe’s hero in The Real Deal is blessed with a mega-IQ too. What are some others? Where do you stand on the nerds? In what instance can they really do it for you? Or not?


Meg Benjamin said...

Who can love a nerd? Well, me for one! I'm married to a scientist and my younger son has a degree in Computer Science. As for fictional nerds, my boys grew up loving "Real Genius" with Val Kilmer, probably the ultimate nerd movie. And if you want to go farther back, there's always Cary Grant in "Bringing Up Baby" or Henry Fonda in "The Lady Eve", both favorites of mine. I think we need smart guys in our stories, along with the angst-filled macho men.

Kelly Jamieson said...

I do love a smart man! The very first book I wrote (which will never be seen by anyone) was about a hero who is the CFO of a big tech company - a mathematical genius, former nerd, whose people skills need a little work - that's where heroine came in. Ah, I still like the story even though the writing is crappy.

Though I have to say in a romance the smart guy still has to be buff!

PG Forte said...

I like variety in my characters. So nerds are fine by me--just another flavor, right?

BUT...if a guy's gonna be smart, he can't be the kind of guy who always thinks he's the smartest person in the room and makes a habit of talking down to everyone around him. So. Not. Sexy.

On the other hand, a guy who starts out that way then gets an intellectual butt kicking from the heroine and actually LEARNS something in the process--now, that would be a story I could really get into.


Kate Davies said...

*raises hand*

Count me in as a nerd-lover, too, in fiction and in real life. Probably because I'm a nerd as well, and proud of it. Looking forward to meeting your nerd hero, Erin!

Sydney Somers said...

LOVE Never Been Kissed. Haven't thought about Can't Buy Me Love in forever. Such a cute movie. Still love Pattivk Dempsey too. :)